When I graduated high school my life changed. I think when you graduate high school you start the course of your growing up phases. At 17, I wasn’t ready to grow up just yet. I wasn’t ready for the reality that was the real world and any chance to escape to Neverland I would take. I was burnt out on the need to constantly be responsible. After going to school for what seemed like an eternity, I started to sabotage the very notion of stability. While my peers were starting their stages of growing up with going to school, starting new relationships, etc, I was plotting my way out. I wasn’t ready to give in to settling down, I wasn’t ready to take the easy way out.
The summer of 2000, I spent exploring life. I wanted to live, I wanted to experience, I wanted to spend a shit load of money. Of course after graduating from high school, my money making options expanded to Nannying part-time and taking a hostess job with a housing community my mom worked for. Needless to say I started making a good chunk of money. The summer I spent exploring, going to shows (concerts) and hanging out with two of my friends (a friend from high school and her friend), made for some memorable experiences. Honestly the summer was a great time for endless possibilities. Before summer’s end I had saved up a good amount of money and started dating a guy I sort of had feelings for. I should have been happy with how my summer was progressing but as soon as summer ended I wanted out. I started feeling suffocated in my life; I felt I was settling for everyone else’s dreams and needed a way out. It wasn’t that I was unhappy with my life, I was just unhappy with the way things were going. I was following the footsteps of so many of my peers that I knew I deserved better. I didn’t want to end up on the misguided end of being unhappy 20 years from now. I wanted adventure, mystery, I wanted a start to a thousand stories.
After this photo was taken my life changed. 18 without a purpose or direction.
Right around the start of the fall of 2000, I started going to shows with my two friends (I will dub them for the sake of this story “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”). After being so sheltered most of my high school years, it felt great to sort of experience my teenage years. I started listening to a wide range of music, going to shows, and soon stopped feeling the need to conform to anyone else’s expectations. Soon after I was going to my first series of shows, I broke up with my boyfriend. I knew dating him would mean I would have to make a choice down the line of relationship or traveling the world. Needless to say I was already feeling suffocated with my life so I choose to travel the world. Honestly I was in the relationship because that’s what my peers had done. Since I didn’t want to be anything like my peers I started my stages of what I believed a new life entailed. While going to shows with my friends was fun, the reality of life was happening. From my part-time Nannying jobs, my hostess gig, I started working part-time in my Mom’s office. I was working 3 jobs, going to school fulltime and honestly was already burned out before I even had a chance to truly experience my life. At 18, I was ready to retire. I was working 3 jobs and going to school full time. The only time I had for myself was one night a week. This wasn’t how I expected my life to turn. Any way I could I started sabotaging school, sabotaging any chance of settling down. My parents blamed my friends for being bad influences but the reality was I was doing this myself. Right around the time that I got on academic probation, I knew that was the end of my academic career and the start of my life. While still working the 3 jobs, I had the luxury of making money to pay for my travels, expenses, countless shows etc. I wasn’t thinking about a future, I was thinking about the “right now”. Since I was feeling the stress of a million people, I realized I had developed a dependency of food. While I had been heavy a majority of my adolescence, after high school I had ballooned up to 250 pounds. Emotional eating was my way of coping with how I was feeling. Coping with how many times I got a lecture about my life, coping with how many times I felt alone, and coping with how many times I felt rejected by people. While I was enjoying the living for the moment, I realized I was embarking on a series of emotional problems. From over eating to over spending, I found myself of opening demons into my self destructive phase.
Emotional eating and emotional spending are two of a kind. While I was suppressing my demons by eating, I was rewarding my sadness with never ending spending. Spending $100 dollars at the Benefit Cosmetics counter, or spending $900 dollars in less than an hour at the mall, my possibilities were endless. I didn’t put into account the countless times I bought my friends gifts just because. Both were driven by emotion, this need to feel this void of unhappiness I was feeling. When you reach a point in your life where you’re truly unhappy, you start to believe there is no one you can talk to. I had alienated myself from so many of my friends and family members, I honestly believed I had nobody. I started keeping everything I was feeling inside which lead me to find destructive ways to deal with my emotions. When the food digested, and the spending lost it’s novelty, I found myself just finding way to hurt myself. I started a cycle of self mutilation to keep from screaming. Cutting was my way of dealing everything. The spending, the hurt, the internal screaming, and my constant need for acceptance. I told no one about it. After being told by Thing 2 “Everyone has problems, one day I won’t be there to listen to your problems“, I stopped talking about my problems. My problems stayed internal for years, the more you bottle up how you feel the more you realize one day you’re going to pop. I was a ticking time bomb, I knew that. The only thing that was keeping me a float was eating my feelings, spending money, cutting and listening to great music.
Just a small handful the shows I went to. Memories of the past.
To be brutally honest while I was parading around about how awesome my life was, I was miserable. I was going absolutely no where and while my demons haunted me I found myself eating more and spending far beyond my means.
The breakdown of an average show from 2000-2003:
Bridge Toll: $3
Total: $143 a week.
Where my money went in 2000-2003:
Total for 1 year: $9,360
Money I made working 3 jobs a year:
Total for the year: $16,800
We started going to just 1 show a month, which escalated to 3 shows a week. Daily Average was $143, when Thing 1 and myself didn’t have licenses we would rely on someone to take us and pay their ticket/gas/food/parking etc. Those expenses doubled and seeing that these were mostly my friends that would take us to a show, I would spend $286 a show night. Honestly now that I look at, I spent far more then my share. I never looked into it because as I had stated multiple times I was having the best time with my best friends. Even when at my lowest moments of my life you start to realize who your real friends are. Thing 1 and Thing 2 while they were my friends would always do some severely shady things. I refused to see what was in front of me and believed them when they told lies. First it would be going to shows without me, lie about where they were, lied to mutual friends, or better yet my favorite, use things I told them in confidence to make me the villain. They would put the blame on each other then would make it out like I was the crazy one. Since I was more emotional, the one that came from the strict upbringing, etc. It wasn’t until I found out they had gone out with a guy I had a crush on without telling me, that I realized “you know maybe these people really aren’t my friends”. No matter how many times I tried to confront them, I would be met with more lies and more paranoia that it was all in my head. For every fight I had with my friends, we would make up and become the 3 musketeers all over again. It would last for a few weeks, then Thing 1 and Thing 2 would be back to being “twins” as they effortlessly called themselves. They were my best friends right? Who else could you talk to except your best friends? I couldn’t talk to my parents since they already felt they were a bad influence, so I escaped to more over eating, more spending, and more self mutilating. As much as I wanted to blame them for my problems, I couldn’t. I was the one making myself miserable. I was the one that wanted to believe lie after lie of being okay. I was the one hiding how I felt from the world. As much as I wanted to tell everyone to FUCK OFF and start all over again, I couldn’t. Instead I escaped to a world of sadness, loneliness and denial.
For every time I felt sad, I cut myself. For every time I wanted to hide the demons I felt, I ate. For every time I wanted acceptance from my friends, I would buy things in the hopes that buying things would make a dent in their armor. I wanted this acceptance from Thing 1 and Thing 2 because they were all I had left. My parents didn’t know what to do with me, I wasn’t going to school, I wasn’t doing well at work, I just stopped caring. The constant fighting at home didn’t compare to the way I felt around my friends. When I started getting panic attacks hanging out with my friends I realized I was coming across a huge problem. Before the music was my escape, staying 3 hours in a show took all the pain away. Travelling 300 miles from home, mostly on my own dime took all the pain of sadness away. Then you start noticing that your so called best friends are leaving you out of things. Not including you on anything. You start hating yourself thinking it’s something you did wrong. Maybe if I wasn’t so fat. Maybe if I wasn’t so self conscious. Maybe if I wasn’t who I was, people would actually like me. When you’re at your lowest points you realize you surround yourself with not very great people. On top of feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I found myself being used by the very people I considered my best friends. Sure I had a great time with Thing 1 and Thing 2 but the reality of our friendship wasn’t friendship. We used each other because while everyone else was living in the real world, we weren’t. We lived in a fantasyland of 3 hours of real friendship in a show and constantly judging and belittling each other out of a show. While Thing 1 and Thing 2 stated how we were the 3 musketeers, their selfish shallow needs would go far beyond our friendship. It took years to understand that. Realizing that for every time I felt that we were all friends, it was really just Thing 1 and Thing 2 being the best of friends and me paying off the expenses. It wasn’t that they didn’t have any money, they worked and as Thing 2 told me countless times “Thing 1 had an adult job, not a job someone got for her”. Yet I was the one paying more for our friendship. I was financing a friendship with people who never were my friends to begin with.
For working 3 jobs, I was making a decent amount of money. How ever much I was making, I wasn’t saving any of it. While some of my peers were saving to move out of their surroundings, I was stuck. I was all talk and no follow through. For every check I spent, someone else benefited from my hard work. Whether it be a dinner here, a new eyeshadow there, I wasn’t seeing any of my money anymore. It wasn’t until I completely financed two tours and overdrafted my account over $300 dollars each time that I realized that I was over spending my hard earned money. The countless lectures about my spending, the countless lectures asking how much of my friends accounts were overdrafted, I didn’t listen. Instead I saw it as a personal attack toward me. I failed in my social experiment with living in the now. On top of feeling like a failure, I was overweight and broken. I couldn’t tell you the countless nights I spent crying just feeling that everything I was doing was wrong. My friends abandoned me, my parents didn’t understand, my skin hurt and I was broken. It took a long time for the cuts to heal to finally get to the point of feeling okay. Just sometimes the past comes back to haunt you in the most unusual way. You end up meeting people that hurt you the same way and you start the cycle of self destruct all over again. It’s up to you to realize when enough is enough, and when you reach that point in your life is when you truly feel free.
Now that time has passed, I finally have time to actually heal and process that time period. I am not the person I was 13 years ago. I’m not even the same person I was a year ago. You live, you learn and you eventually move on. It’s funny to think of it that way. I did have a great time traveling the world seeing some of my favorite bands. While I wouldn’t have given up any of those moments for the world, I would have been more vocal about how I felt. I would have saved more then what I had spent. I wouldn’t have allowed people to make me feel worse than how I already felt. I wouldn’t have felt the need to buy friendships. Thing 1 and Thing 2 weren’t the enemy, I know that now. The only enemy I had was living inside of me and making me into a monster. No one deserves to feel the way that I felt in that time period. While I now know how to deal with my emotional feelings, I just wished I had gotten to this point sooner than now. While I have gotten a lot of my emotional self destructiveness behind me, I know now I am better than my past. I’m no longer friends with Thing 1 and Thing 2. While they were never good friends, I just hope that at the end of the day they can at least be good friends to someone even if it is to each other.
At the end of the day, I guess this is growing up.